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Natl Med J India. 2007 Sep-Oct;20(5):236-9.

Complementary and alternative medicine use in rheumatoid arthritis: an audit of patients visiting a tertiary care centre.

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All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, 110029, India.



Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) enjoys widespread popularity in chronic illnesses such as rheumatic diseases. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is the commonest inflammatory joint disease seen in clinical practice. No systematic study on the use of CAM by patients with RA is available from northern India.


We evaluated the prevalence and usage characteristics of CAM in Indian patients with RA using a questionnaire at a tertiary care centre in northern India.


Of the 102 patients with RA included in the study, 39% reported current CAM use. As many as 84 respondents (82%) reported having tried CAM during the course of their disease. A total of 215 CAM courses were used, out of which 77 were being continued. Ayurveda was the commonest (28% courses) followed by homoeopathy (20%), yoga asana (17%) and pranayama (12%). Pain control was the primary reason for using CAM (69% of users). Most CAM therapies (78%) were started on the advice of friends and relatives. Discontinuation of CAM was attributed to lack of clinical benefit (78%) and adverse effects (10%). Of the patients using CAM, 87% did not reveal its use to their physicians, primarily because the physician did not enquire about it.


Patients with RA frequently use CAM for pain control. These practices are often not revealed to the treating physician. Knowledge of the concurrent use of CAM may serve to alert the physician about potential side-effects or drug interactions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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